The Ugliest Fight Ever: Apple Versus Google

What people have been saying since since July 2008 is now true: the Google Phone exists and is coming.

And right now it’s running what no one else has: Android 2.1.

While people are saying the “dogfood” test is mainly to wind up with a consistent, unfragmented Android platform, you can bet that what’s also happening is all the Googlers are busy seeing how Google works with the Google Phone.

What concerns me is the book part of this.

You can expect major changes to Google Books to make it friendlier for mobile phones.

But more than that: You can place money that the best mobile platform for Google Books will be the Google Phone and those devices that adopt the “standard” Android OS.

Android will have features for Google Books no other platform will have built-in.

Google can argue in its defense that, for example, Apple is free to do the same thing — here’s the API, now go build it in.

Right, like Apple would do so, delivering those sixty-million plus iPhone and iPod Touch into the hands of the Google Monster.

Apple didn’t even want the Palm Pre sipping from iTunes sync — which was a move favorable to Apple!

Google is now moving into Apple’s turf.

Apple will have to move into Google’s turf.

We already know that Apple will soon evict Google Maps from the iPhone in favor of its own mapping system.

Will Apple buy or build a search engine?

Will Apple ramp up its iWorks in the Cloud service?

Does Apple now regret not opening its mouth over the Google Books Settlement, letting Amazon play that hand instead?

Let’s look at how this has been shaping up. It turns out I did several posts about this back in 2008, but no one wanted to listen!

May 30, 2008: It’s Now All Down To Apple Vs. Google — in which I pointed out:

The Internet is going to be the new telephone. But moreso: the transfer of information and entertainment is something that the pre-computer telephone couldn’t do. With music, photos, movies, and more transformed into digital data, the Internet has become sort of like Star Trek’s transporter. What used to be thought of as things — DVDs, books, magazines, newspapers, et al — can now be instantly “beamed down” to a receiving device.

And the primary receiving device is going to be an Apple iPhone or a Google Android OS phone.

Google sees what Apple has been doing. Google will try to replicate that as much as possible. There’s already rumors of an Android App Store. That’s unsurprising.

And this:

For Apple to spread out into the Internet, to challenge Google on its own turf, it will have to turn its stores into platforms that any merchant can set up. By doing that, Apple can relent on its standard pricing model and allow each merchant to catch hell for its own pricing.

And, I would add today, publish whatever the hell they like instead of getting Apple’s approval!

Note that back then, I was still a supporter of the ePub standard for eBooks. This is no longer true. However, with Apple moving towards digital books, the entire past history of American books is now trapped in the hands of Googlein ePub, PDF, and whatever new Cloud-friendly streaming format they create for Android.

March 16, 2008: The Three Companies Apple Should Acquire — I said Adobe, MySpace, and WordPress. I would change that today to these four companies:

1) Twitter — it’s instant communication, now the pulse of the Internet

2) WordPress — it’s the best damn blogging platform out there and now links to Twitter

3) eGether — Apple needs to counter Google Wave, this is how to do it

4) Veoh — Apple could clean up the mess they’ve made, convert it all to MP4, not worry about YouTube going away, and also deprive YouTube of all that video being created by iPhones

Apple doesn’t need Adobe now. I don’t think anyone does.

July 15, 2008: Google Uses The iPhone As An Android Testbed, where I said:

Very clever, Google.

Put it out for the iPhone to see how it works, collect data on how people use it, refine everything for the later Android versions.

Eventually put more features in the Android version, discontinue the iPhone version, and all those Google junkies flock to Android phones.

And isn’t that exactly what’s happened with some current iPhone owners who jumped from it to the Motorola Droid? It had mapping functions superior to the iPhone! Will even more people switch to this new Google Phone running Android 2.1? What other Google services will be better on it than the iPhone?

And let’s not forget this, either: While Apple will have the iTablet next year, there will be a flood of competing Android mini-tablets that will wipe out all current eInk eBook readers. While Apple will be creating a digital book future, there will still be many ePub and PDB eBook owners who will need to preserve that investment and will do it with a lower-priced device — in other words, an Android mini-tablet.

The dividing line between Apple and Google will come down to books.

Steve Jobs seriously underplayed his hand when he said this:

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

Choosing the future, Apple has marooned the past of books in the grips of Google.

That’s not an advantage I’d want Google to have.

Nokia is in the death spiral that I predicted. Microsoft is a toothless old man with Alzheimer’s no one pays attention to any longer.

It’s all Apple versus Google now.

8 Responses to The Ugliest Fight Ever: Apple Versus Google

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by mikecane: NEW POST: The Ugliest Fight Ever: Apple Versus Google http://tinyurl.com/y926fju @jafurtado @jane_l @Booksquare @MoriahJovan…

  2. jenn topper says:

    Absolutely spot on. THIS is the insight I need. There was a piece in the WSJ late last week about this very issue, but of course without the book slant.

    Is it really simplistic to say that I would rely on Apple to get the consumer-facing products right simply because their tendency to design features is more friendly than Google’s rough but sophisticated platforms?

    It’s going to be a chessgame of whichever entity can hold out the longest while they perfect their product, rather than rushing it to market. I believe that the timing of their business decisions will be more vital in judging the success than the actual products themselves.

    I look forward to more on this very subject!

    Thanks.

    ~jenn
    @revolucion0

  3. AdamC says:

    Reading on the laptop or smartphone the end all of reading. The web offers too much distraction to concentrate on reading and I hate to say this the plain ole paperback is still the nest option. Ever thought of reading Atlas Shrugged on a smartphone or the laptop.

    Apple’s strategy is more interesting in offering a device that is like the iPhone which versatile and can be used for virtually for every purpose in computing. i am not surprise apps will take over the softwares which we are using in today’s computing and companies like Adobe may be on its last leg of survival if they don’t adapt to the iPhone platform by offering apps instead of their suites, why? because all it needs is some developers to do a suite of apps that duplicates the functions and features of Adobe softwares and sell them at one hundredth of what Adobe is charging.

    Btw i tried reading on the Ipod and laptop I can’t go for more than a few pages whereas with a book i can go on and on.

    The war is good for everyone because the consumers will benefit from better products from the competitors and the fanbois will have something to write about.

    Thanks for this informative article.

  4. KS says:

    Google has become a parasite. Their CEO was on the board at Apple & it is starting to look like they were there just to take ideas, much like MS in the eighties. After all what is Google doing that is actually an original idea?

  5. [...]  I’m inclined to agree with Mike Cane who believes the book fight will come down to an epic one between Google and Apple. Already Google and Apple are sparring over music and online ad companies.  Google is developing [...]

  6. [...] The Ugliest Fight Ever: Apple Versus Google What people have been saying since since July 2008 is now true: the Google Phone exists and is coming. And right now [...] [...]

  7. TimB says:

    Interesting analysis…I think the piece of the puzzle that I’m trying to fit in this fight is Amazon. Both Apple and Amazon have the capability and platform to peddle ebooks, whereas Google has farmed out these transactions to 3rd parties. Are they going to cross that line in the sand?

    • mikecane says:

      Amazon has wedded itself to ePub and eInk. Amazon is more like WalMart than Barnes & Noble. B&N *must* sell books. Amazon can now sell *anything* and still survive.

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